The European Energy Crisis

The European Energy Crisis

This crisis centers on the intersection of bad weather for wind energy generation and decades of poor policy planning.

Manuel Antunes
Manuel Antunes

IN THIS PUBLICATION:

  • Europe is facing an energy crisis driven by their heavy dependency on energy imports caused by their hard-line push into renewable energy transition efforts.
  • Until broad renewable infrastructure is online, it's likely we’ll continue to see various forms of these energy crises…
  • Improved energy storage infrastructure, slower decommissioning of nuclear projects, and hopefully, the EU agreeing to include Nuclear in their renewables push (an effort the French are currently leading) could pave the way to a smoother transition.

Where We Stand Today

  • The EU imports 60% of its consumed energy. In 2000 it imported 56%. Europe is seeing declining production of fossil fuel energy, whilst at the same time, it's increasing energy imports whose source is predominantly fossil fuel-based. In fact, Natural Gas imports more than doubled since 1990 to become the second-largest imported energy product after crude oil.
  • Europe is leading the energy transition race, but this also means that it currently finds itself overly dependent on production from unreliable energy sources like wind. Whilst we cannot control the weather (meaning that wind and solar will always be somewhat unreliable), there are several levers we can pull to minimize the risk of energy shortfalls, with two primary candidates being improved energy storage systems and nuclear.
  • Renewable policy bears have been highlighting the risks of blindly transitioning away from reliable fossil fuel energy sources into weather-dependent renewables for a while now. And for good reason, fossil fuels – supply chains allowing – are still the most reliable source of energy we have.
  • We'll continue to see decommissioning of fossil fuel energy sources while ignoring one incredibly important factor – the time it will take to get all that renewable capacity to match the decommissioned fossil fuel dependency.
  • S&P Platts (provider of energy info) puts it clearly, with a German example – from 2020 to 2026, Germany will go from a net exporter of 19TWh of energy to a net importer of 55TWh due to the decommissioning of nuclear and coal sources.
  • While that's a common trend across European countries, France, with its nuclear-intensive grid, will instead almost double its net exporting capacity from 46 TWh to 84 TWh. Even though this is a concern for many countries that are decommissioning coal and nuclear, we see it as potentially the right approach to ensure a smooth transition from a fossil-fuel-based to a renewable-based society.

Bad Weather Matters

This summer we faced the perfect storm – milder winds paired with a distressed fossil fuel supply chain (both COVID and policy-induced) causing energy prices to soar.